Even though it was the Fort Motors team who walked away with the trophy at the 2013 Petroleum Association's 4-on-4 Oilmen's Hockey Tournament over the weekend, it seems that the whole community has won after another successful event.
From April 3-6, the North Peace Arena and Fort St. John Curling Club were homes to members of the Petroleum Association, five former NHL players as well as families and guests for the 10th Annual 4-on-4 Oilmen's Hockey Tournament.
As usual, 110 players were drafted to 10 teams on Wednesday, April 3, and from Thursday to Saturday the teams faced off and were whittled down on Saturday for the tournament finals.
In the mix at the arena were some familiar faces, as five former NHLers took the ice amongst the Oilmen.
"It's great fun," said seven-time Stanley Cup champion Bryan Trottier on Saturday. "We've had a wonderful experience up here. The friendships we've made are awesome, so we'll go back with some great memories and look forward to our next trip up here."
"This is very unique in the fact that it's way up here in Northern B.C. and that's really fun," Trottier added. "You get to experience the friendliness of the folks up here, enjoy a bit of the weather and the overall community-mindedness of not only the corporations, but the hockey players and the families coming out, so I'm really enjoying the atmosphere. It's very unique."
Along with Trottier were NHL alumni Ron Flockhart, Bob Bourne (affectionately called Bobby), Todd Simpson and legendary Calgary Flames' captain Lanny McDonald.
Locals on the teams were treated to either getting to play with or against former NHL players, sometimes both, and the retired pros loved every minute of it.
"We made sure there was one alumni on the ice at all times," Trottier explained, "But what happened most of the time is we had one alumni on each team, so I got to play against Lanny McDonald one game, Ron Flockhart one game, Bobby Bourne one game and Todd Simpson one game, so it was really fun."
"We don't want to make anyone look stupid, but I think from the standpoint of everyone getting a good feel of what it's like to play against a former NHLer, we try to do our best there."
When it comes to playing against some old NHL rivals, Trottier was taking an even softer stance than some might expect.
"When we go against each other we don't try very hard, we give each other lots of space and that's out of respect," he said. "We don't want to jam each other or play real hard against each other."
"We did enough of that in the old days."
The local players, however, decided to amp things up on Saturday for the finals. In the Weir Services Game, Baker Hughes (last year's champs) beat Northern Vac 7-6 in overtime, while Ditmarsia beat Tom's Construction 7-6 in the Sexsmith Financial Game.
In the Scotiabank Game, CPS beat Cabre Oilfield 9-5 while NOV Wilson defeated TCL 5-3 to take third place overall in the Spectra Energy Game.
For the final, the Petroleum Club Game, it was down to Magnum Rentals and Fort Motors.
It was a back-and-forth, up-and-down kind of final, as Fort Motors took an early 4-1 lead over Magnum in the first (25 minute) half with goals from Ryan Garant, Dale Merwin and Ryan Marquardt.
That wasn't the end though, as Magnum got a few goals from Todd Alexander and Michael Gardner (2) to end the first 5-3.
In the second half, Magnum came out roaring, quickly tying the game then getting the 7-5 lead over Fort Motors. The rest of the game was intense, much to the pleasure of onlookers, with Fort Motors tying it up at seven (thanks to Mike Yastremski), then Rick Brown getting the go-ahead goal for Fort Motors with only minutes to go.
Again, Magnum answered. Scott Mackinnon tapped it in to tie the game 8-8 and push the Petroleum Club Game to a one-round shootout, where Fort Motors' Garant scored on Magnum goalie Gary Ford. When Magnum couldn't score in response, cheers broke out in North Peace Arena and Trottier brought out the trophy for Fort Motors.
"Magnum are great guys," Trottier said, "Also the Fort Motors crew, we played with them on Friday."
"This is a really neat, creative hockey tournament that the Oilmen have put on up here. The four-on-four aspect is really fun, a little more open ice and it quickens the pace," he added, praising Lee Hartman, chairman of the Oilmen's hockey committee. "Overall I think it's a really neat concept. There's a lot of camaraderie, there's nobody out there trying to be a jerk. It's all in great fun and all the guys like to compete. The goaltenders were great."
"I really enjoyed the last two or three days. The hospitality's been first class."
Trottier hasn't been to Fort St. John since 2009 when he came through town with the Old Timers, but after his experience this year at the Oilmen's hockey tournament, he knows he'll be back again soon.
"Everybody just being normal Canadians, that's what I like," he said. "They don't treat you like a superstar; we're just telling stories and being a part of the community for two great days. The people really have a wonderful appreciation of everything, no one takes anything for granted."
One word that Trottier kept bringing up when asked about Fort St. John was "community," and he couldn't help but praise the Petroleum Association for giving back to the area in such a unique way.
"[The Oilmen] are not doing it for a lavish party for themselves," he said. "They're having a good weekend and raising money that will benefit kids enjoying sports. I think it's great."
Next up for the Fort St. John Petroleum Association is their 51st Annual Oilmen's Golf Tournament, June 5-8 at Lakepoint Golf & Country Club.